Budget cuts to passenger duty tax on some domestic flights has been criticised by Bath MP Wera Hobhouse.
The move reduces the flat-rate tax on departures between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to zero – cutting the cost of a domestic return flight connecting England, Wales or Scotland with the airports of Belfast or City of Derry by £26. Additionally, flights to the Scottish Highlands and Islands are expected to become APD-exempt. It’s thought that the move will encourage passengers to fly instead of taking the train.
Already, domestic flights in the UK are almost 50% cheaper than train fares. Bath MP Wera Hobhouse has criticised the move, citing that the prices of flights will fall in the same year as a record rise in rail fares – sending completely the wrong signal ahead of next week’s crucial climate summit in Glasgow.
Earlier this year, France banned internal flights where the same journey could be made by train in under two and a half hours. Similarly, Austrian Airlines replaced a flight route between Vienna and the city of Salzburg with an increased train service after receiving a Government bailout with provisions to cut its carbon footprint.
Sunak’s decision comes on the eve of COP26 where global leaders come together on the subject of climate change to discuss how they are going to tackle this most pressing global issue.
The cut joins a list of issues which the Lib Dems say show that the Government is not serious about tackling climate change.
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse, Lib Dem Spokesperson for Climate Change criticised the move:
“This year alone the Government has scrapped the Green Homes Grant which aimed to help people upgrade their homes and cut their energy bills, cut grants for electric vehicles making it more expensive to switch to a clean vehicle, and ditched green standards for new-build homes – meaning first-time buyers are left with poorly insulated houses just to help developers cut corners.
“Now, the Chancellor has slashed air passenger duty on domestic flights in the same year as a record rise in rail fares. This sends completely the wrong signal ahead of next week’s crucial climate summit in Glasgow. Rishi Sunak should be investing in trains, not removing air passenger duty.
“Cutting air passenger duty for internal flights just before COP shows this Government is simply not serious about cutting emissions. We need to invest in public transport across the UK to provide a clean, green alternative to internal flights.”
The Chancellor has moved to make flights within the UK cheaper – starting from April 2023 – by cutting air passenger duty. Summary of budget here